Roger Federer couldn’t hold it back.
The tennis legend welled up with tears after his storied career came to a close on Friday, following a Laver Cup doubles loss with longtime nemesis Rafael Nadal.
“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer told the London crowd, which cheered him on throughout the match. “I would do it all over again.
“It’s been so much fun. It’s been amazing. Thank you, everybody. I’ve had so many people cheer me on. And you guys here tonight, it means the world.”
Federer and Nadal, representing Team Europe, fell to Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9, marking the end of Federer’s run. His knee, after three surgeries, could no longer keep the 41-year-old at his customary spot atop the tennis world.
“I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time,” he said. “Everything was the last time. And funny enough, with all the matches and having the guys being here – fans, family, friends – I didn’t feel the stress so much, even though I did think [an injury might happen] in the match. So I am so happy I made it through. The match was great. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful. And of course, playing with Rafa on the same team and having the guys – everybody here, all the legends… thank you.”
Federer powered through his post-match interview with Jim Courier, pausing at times to wipe away the tears.
“I’ve done OK so far I feel — I’m at least able to talk,” he said. “In my vision I was never able to talk, so I’m doing way better.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner thanked his family — wife Mirka Vavrinec, children and parents were all seated in the front row at the baseline.
“Everybody’s here tonight from my family, so it’s great. I’ve had so much fun over the last 13 years [of marriage]. Everybody’s here, the girls, the boys. My wife’s been so supportive. She could have stopped me a long, long time ago, but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play. It’s amazing. Thank you.
“I find it always funny that we always blame my mom for everything, because without her, I wouldn’t be here of course. So thanks to my parents, you have been amazing. Thank you. And just everybody, too many people to thank. It’s just been incredible, my God. A fantastic night. Thank you, everybody.”